The best frugal living book that I know is The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn. In fact, I would go as far as saying Amy Dacyzyn is the Godfather of the modern frugal living movement--if there is such a thing. I adore her book and use it as a reference continuously.
One of the more charming features of her book are the hand drawn photos of what a frugal person's home would look like. A picture of their fridge, a picture of their garage, etc. When thinking of what to write today I thought I would present my own frugal shower. NOW, before I get people jumping down my throat, I want to explain something. I try to be as green as possible, but I do not extend that effort to my toiletries. I would like to, LOVE to in fact, but natural toiletries are about triple the price of mainstream products and are rarely free with coupons. My friends and family know that I like natural products and often provide them to me as gifts, but I cannot see making room in our budget to pay for things that I can otherwise get for free. If that makes me a horrible environmentalist, I own it.
But I digress...
This is what our frugal shower looks like:
In our shower caddy, on the right, we have multiple bottles that I have filled with samples. I send away for them, wait until I have a few of the same kind and squirt them all in a little bottle. I realize to some that this might seem tedious, but I genuinely enjoy it. Call me a freak, but I find it relaxing to fill up those little bottles. I like switching brands often, and dare I say it, I find it EXCITING to try something new. (I'm sure I could get help for this condition somewhere). On the left that yellow tub is a sugar scrub that was a Christmas gift.
On the bottom left there is a toothpaste sample and on the right a bar of soap that was a gift.
Total Amount Spent on Entire Shower of Toiletries: $0
I try not to pay anything for toiletries for our household if at all possible. If I can't get shampoo and conditioner for free after coupons, I will use my stockpiled samples until I can find a deal on a full sized bottle. For Emerson, I try to pay less than $1 for Aveeno products, and $0.50 for Johnson & Johnson products after coupons. The largest expenses we ever have are razors and I tend to be able to find JC a sample or two just about the time he needs them, so I don't think I've had to pay for any razors for him in the last three years. For my razors, I buy whatever is on sale and the cheapest. Last week, after two coupons, I paid a little under $0.50 a blade for me. (I try to keep a bottom price for each toiletry and stick to it. It helps me stay on budget).
How I do it in 3 easy steps:
1. Give Samples a Chance-- I adore sampling. If it could be considered a hobby, it would be mine. I find many, many samples linked from MoneySavingMom.com and StyleforFree.com. I have also found in my years of sampling, that samples are cyclical. For instance, when I first started sampling deodorant samples were being given out like candy. At the moment, I'm find that toothpaste and laundry detergent samples are prevalent. If you stock up, when samples are being given, you should be able to get by for a long time without having to purchase anything.
2. Don't Be A Monogamist--Switch brands. A lot. Buy what is on sale or the lowest price after a coupon. Sure, I have personal preferences and I try to find them at my absolute bottom price, but most of the time, I just use whatever I can get for free. Gotta love free.
3. Ask & You Shall Receive--If you must have a certain brand of [insert toiletry here], put the word out that you like whatever it may be. My mom and sisters always make a point of trying to buy me a few special bottles of lotion or body scrub that they know I will like. That usually keeps me pretty stocked through the year.
Try to adopt just one of these methods, and I am certain you will see a HUGE dent in your toiletry budget.